World

South Korea schools close over radiation in rain fears

More than 100 South Korean schools have cancelled or shortened classes over fears that rain falling across the country may contain radiation from Japan's stricken nuclear plant.
People hold umbrellas as it rains in Seoul Thursday. Concerns about radiation fallout from Japan's nuclear disaster prompted some schools in South Korea to close as rain fell over most of the country, but the nuclear safety agency played down immediate health risks. (Lee Jae-Won/Reuters)

More than 100 South Korean schools have cancelled or shortened classes over fears that rain falling across the country may contain radiation from Japan's stricken nuclear plant.

The Education Office of Gyeonggi province said it allowed schools to decide whether to open Thursday.

The prime minister's office said radiation levels in the rain are low and pose no health threat.

Still officials say that 126 schools in Gyeonggi province shut down and 43 others shortened class hours as a precaution. The province is near Seoul.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology says only a few schools outside Gyeonggi cancelled classes Thursday.

North Korea said Tuesday that traces of radioactive iodine and cesium had been detected in Pyongyang and a few other areas of the country, but not at dangerous levels.

North Korea's state-run television KRT aired a special health program on Wednesday explaining the effects of radioactive contamination on human bodies and how to counter them amid fears of possible contamination from airborne particles.

During the program, a KRT newscaster introduced a map showing reported wind directions near the Korean peninsula and Japan and said it was likely the radioactive materials would blow into the North.

A North Korean doctor spoke about the effects of radioactive contamination on humans and how to prevent contamination.

"If you want to prevent radioactive damage, you need to wear a personal mask so that you do not breathe in radioactive materials and also shut down your windows to stop radioactive materials getting inside," said Dr. Jin Jong-sik from Kim Man-yu Hospital.

The program also recommended carrying an umbrella and wearing a raincoat when there's rain.

The doctor also said seaweed, water and beer were good food products to prevent radioactive materials staying in the body.

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